Crushing resistance

THE commonest form of antibiotic resistance can be defeated by a small change to the drug molecule, according to Shahriar Mobashery, a chemist at Wayne State University in Detroit. Bacteria commonly become resistant to antibiotics by generating enzymes that attach a phosphate group to the antibiotic molecule in place of a hydroxyl group. The phosphate group prevents the antibiotic binding to the bacteria, disarming the drug. In a paper to be published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Mobashery reports that attaching a second hydroxyl group to the antibiotic kanamycin A foils this strategy by destabilising the phosphate bond. “The enzyme puts the phosphate on, but it can’t stay put and so it falls off” says Mobashery. In general,
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